Trying to pay and enter Dogo Onsen is very confusing if you have never been there. There are several levels of service and it is also nearly impossible to get the information in Japanese, which is a surprise. The official website doesn’t even have the information! I had to find the information on Japan-Guide.com which was a saviour for understanding the prices. However, they don’t really go into good detail into what is and isn’t included and some of the information was still confusing when I first went. I’ll explain some of the services here but be aware that I only experienced one service so I cannot guarantee that what I say for the other services is true.
The Honkan itself has 4 levels of service, but in Japanese it is split into 3. The lowest level is for people who just want to bathe and leave. It is only 410 JPY and you only have access to the Kami no Yu. The second level is split into 2 services, the Kami no Yu and the Tama no Yu. While both are very similar, the Tama no Yu allows access to the Kami no Yu bath as well as the Tama no Yu bath. The rest area is also in a different area on the second level.
When you go into the onsen it is very easy to understand the naming system. Level 1 is ground level and Level 2 is the second floor of the building. There are actually 2 floors on the second floor, the main floor and a slightly higher sub floor. With the Kami no Yu service, you get a yukata and an area to rest after your bath. You only get access to the Kami no Yu and from what I can tell there is no soap for the bath.
I decided to go for the Level 2 Tama no Yu service. This is a little better as you get access to the higher Tama no Yu bath as well as soap and shampoo. You also go to a smaller rest area compared to the larger Kami no Yu area. They are all very similar and you get the same tea and senbe (biscuit) after your bath.
If you opt for luxury, you can get the Level 3 service which includes a private room, botchan dango, and you can stay a bit longer. This service as well as the Level 2 Tama no Yu service includes a tour of the Emperor’s private bathing facilities, which is typically enjoyed after you finish relaxing and just before you leave.
Just to recap, here are the services and what you get (Note: Information is subject to change):
- Level 1: Access to the Kami no Yu bath for 60 minutes. 410 JPY
- Level 2 (Kami no Yu): Access to the Kami no Yu bath and the Kami no Yu rest area for 60 minutes, a rental yukata, tea and senbe. 840 JPY
- Level 2 (Tama no Yu): Access to the Tama no Yu bath, Kami no Yu bath and Tama no Yu rest area for 60 minutes, a rental yukata and towel, tea and senbe, tour of the Emperor’s bathing facilities. 1250 JPY
- Level 3: Access to a private tatami room for 80 minutes, access to the Tama no Yu bath and Kami no Yu bath, rental yukata and towel, tea and Botchan Dango, tour of the Emperor’s bathing facilities. 1550 JPY
Note: Prices and services are subject to change. Prices are true as of the spring of 2015.